Government gives way to greener emergency vehicles

More than 1,000 local authority vehicles including buses, taxis, vans, fire engines and ambulances are going to be made greener thanks to £5m of Government funding.

Seventeen local authorities across the UK have been awarded grants to implement a range of cutting-edge, pollution-reducing technologies to 1,080 vehicles as part of the 2014 Clean Vehicle Technology Fund (CVTF), managed by the Department for Transport.

One of the winning projects – Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust – will see the introduction of the first solar-powered ambulances in England, with a £166,000 grant allowing for the installation of solar panels on 175 NHS vehicles.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said: “The £5m CVTF means councils can now lead the way on introducing greener vehicles on their local streets. We received imaginative applications from local authorities from across England – all the schemes will lower emissions in busy towns and cities.

“The funding we are providing will result in real public health benefits while supporting skilled jobs and economic growth in the environmental technologies industries.”

Previous rounds of the CVTF have been available for buses only and this is the first time that funding has been available for a wider range of public service vehicles.

Successful projects are required to monitoring the effectiveness of the carbon reducing technologies and provide a useful learning tool to other local authorities considering green vehicle upgrades.

University research

Meanwhile, two low-carbon vehicle research projects have today (9 September) received £6m of funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

‘ELEVATE’ (ELEctrochemical Vehicle Advanced Technology), led by Loughborough University, seeks to develop better materials for energy storage devices such as fuel cells and batteries, and improve integration between devices, vehicles and power grids.

While ‘Ultra Efficient Engines and Fuels’, from the University of Brighton, will investigate how to improve the efficiency of internal combustion engines by up to a third, and using new fuels to bring car emissions close to zero.  

The EPSRC’s chief executive Professor Philip Nelson, said: “The UK’s research base and its universities are a fantastic source of new ideas and refinements from which industry can draw to grow and innovate.

“Low-carbon vehicles are, without doubt, an inevitable and very necessary next step for the automotive industries. The leading research that EPSRC supports will help to make the mass use and production of these vehicles a reality more quickly.”

Developing low-carbon vehicles has long been a Government goal, and favourable policies have helped attract more than £17bn in investments between 2003 and 2013. These investments have helped stimulate a 25% reduction in tailpipe emissions, and 1,500 active low-carbon buses.

By contrast, biofuel consumption has suffered, as ‘the direction and complexity of fuel infrastructure investments have provided an unstable climate for investment’, according to the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership.

Edie timeline: Investing in low-carbon vehicles

1 July 2010: Ministers back low-carbon car clubs

5 March 2014: Electric vehicle uptake boosted by longer-lasting batteries

29 April 2014: Government invests £500m in ultra-low emissions electric vehicles

18 July 2014: Government low-carbon polices drives investment in greener vehicles

30 July 2014: New models help double electric vehicles sales

Brad Allen

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie